1878 - Alfred Waterhouse (1830-1905)

Natural History Museum

Designer: Waterhouse, Alfred (1830-1905)
Copyright: RIBA British Architectural Library Photographs Collection (1900)

Born in Liverpool, Alfred Waterhouse was articled in Manchester before embarking on a tour of France, Germany and Italy. He established his own practice in Manchester in 1854 before moving to London 10 years later. Eventually his son, Paul, joined him in practice there in 1891.


Waterhouse was consultant architect to the Prudential Assurance Company for many years, and built offices for them in several large provincial towns. His building for the Prudential in Holborn, London (1879), recently renamed Waterhouse Chambers, now houses English Heritage.


Waterhouse’s major existing work in Manchester is the town hall (1868) with a design in Venetian Gothic. The building is executed with solid and splendid interior detail.


Manchester Town Hall

Designer: Waterhouse, Alfred (1830-1905)
Copyright: Bedford Lemere & Co./RIBA British Architectural Library Photographs Collection (1877)

After Waterhouse moved to London, his major work was the Natural History Museum (1873-81) on the site of the International Exhibition of 1862 in South Kensington. Waterhouse’s selection of terracotta for the building with flora and fauna sculptures on the exterior was certainly an unusual choice for both client and architect.


'He is in every way worthy of the distinction as a representative man in the highest field of practical architecture in this country.'

Waterhouse went on to design other buildings in brick and tile with a strong colour content including the National Liberal Club, London (1881-5); the Metropole Hotel, Brighton (1888); and University College Hospital, London (1897).